BOZKURT, Turkey, Aug. 14 (Reuters) – Families of those missing after the worst flooding Turkey has seen in years watched anxiously as rescue teams searched buildings on Saturday, fearing the death toll from the raging torrents does not increase further.
At least 44 people have died from flooding in the northern Black Sea region, the second natural disaster to hit the country this month.
Reuters drone footage showed massive damage in the flood-affected town of Bozkurt on the Black Sea, where rescuers were searching demolished buildings.
Thirty-six people have died as a result of flooding in Kastamonu district, which includes Bozkurt, and seven others have died in Sinop and one in Bartin, the Directorate of Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD) said. .
In a collapsed building along the banks of the swollen river, 10 people were still buried. The rapid floods appeared to have washed away the foundations of several other apartment buildings.
Relatives of the missing, desperate to find news, were nearby.
“It’s unprecedented. There is no electricity. Cell phones were dead. There was no reception. You couldn’t hear from anyone,” said Ilyas Kalabalik, a resident of 42 years old.
âWe didn’t know whether the water was rising or not, whether it was flooding the building or not. We were just waiting, like that. Our wives and children were in a panic. Once the sun came up in the morning, we had saw the police. They took us out of the building and threw us at a gas station. “
Kalabalik was surrounded by locals who wondered if anyone had heard from missing people.
“My aunt’s children are there. My aunt is missing. Her husband is missing. Her twin grandchildren are missing. Our building manager’s wife is missing with their two children,” Kalabalik told Reuters.
The floods wreaked havoc in the northern provinces as authorities declared the forest fires that raged in the southern coastal regions for two weeks had been brought under control.
About 45 cm (18 inches) of rain fell in less than three days in a village near Bozkurt.
“It was so horrible. I can’t get the cries of a dog with its puppies out of my head,” Elif, a resident in her twenties, told Reuters.
Torrents of water threw dozens of cars and piles of debris along the streets, destroyed bridges, closed roads and cut power to hundreds of villages.
“We were working in our textile workshop, and the electricity was cut. Then we found out that the hydroelectric dam had overflowed. We left the factories and ran to save our lives,” said Emine Rencler, a 42-year-old worker. .
The small town of Bozkurt lies in a valley along the banks of the Ezine River in the province of Kastamonu, 2.5 km (1.6 miles) from the Black Sea.
“The water quickly invaded Bozkurt completely. (…) At least 60, 70 people I know are still missing. My neighbors, my colleagues, my relatives. We have so many victims,” ââsaid Rencler.
Reporting by Mehmet Emin Caliskan, Bulent Usta and Yesim Dikmen, written by Ece Toksabay, edited by Christina Fincher
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